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Vehicle Repairs and Services - business guide

Any business operations that include repairing, sanding or painting a motor vehicle, retail sales of incidental products or that service and repair motor vehicles will require municipal licensing.

Examples of businesses that do require municipal licensing:

  • Auto body painting
  • Frame repair
  • Dent repair
  • Paintless dent repair
  • Alignment shops
  • Muffler and transmission repair shops
  • Brake shops
  • Mechanic shops
  • Mobile mechanic
  • Vehicle repair and service
  • Windshield and glass repair
  • Window tinting
  • Car detailers
  • Car washes
  • Fuel sales
  • Gas station
  • Auto wrecking yard
  • Tire repair

Examples of businesses that do not require municipal licensing:

  • Parking lots
  • Motor vehicle registry

If your business does not require a licence, you still require a Business ID and land use approval. Visit businesses not requiring a municipal licence​ for more information.

As part of The City’s efforts to accelerate the business license approvals process, customers with a myID business account can receive a digital copy of their business licence via email. This is available to customers applying for a new business licence or renewing an existing licence. To learn more about the benefits of a myID business account and to sign-up today, please visit myID business account (calgary.ca)

Rules and regulations

​Pre-treatment systems installation

Automotive businesses must install a pre-treatment system to remove or capture any solids, fluids or chemicals released from the business, to prevent unwanted substances from going into the wastewater system or the environment. The Pre-treatment system must be cleaned regularly to prevent clogged pipes or sewer backups, and each maintenance must be recorded in a logbook. For more information, review the Drainage Bylaw​ and the Wastewater Bylaw.

Home businesses

While many Motor Vehicle Repair and Service businesses are suitable to take place in residential garages, there are certain types of businesses that involve significant quantities of vehicle exhaust, as well as flammable or combustible liquids and gases. Some of these businesses can have an impact on the surrounding community that exceeds that envisioned by the Land Use Bylaw. In some cases, special ventilation systems, and other significant upgrades to the garage’s exterior wall construction may be required to comply with the National Building Code (Alberta Edition). The below table summarizes the most common types of these businesses and what Safety Codes permits are required:

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Business Type Permit Requirements (if the work is taking place inside the garage) Rationale
Window tinting, vehicle detailing, vehicle wraps, wheel balancing/tire swaps, vehicle inspections Mechanical Permit Vehicle exhaust needs to be exhausted for health reasons.
Oil change, Full service engine repair/swaps, Dent repair, Vehicle painting and body repair Building Permit and Mechanical Permit

Vehicle exhaust needs to be exhausted for health reasons.

These services could involve storage or use of flammable/combustible liquids and gases; therefore these operations are commercial in scope. A typical residential garage (attached or detached), will likely require noncombustible wall framing and fire resistance rated walls, and fire separations (in the case of an attached garage), which are difficult and expensive alterations to make.

Note: Electrical, plumbing or gas permits may also be required if the work involves installation of or alterations to electrical, plumbing or gas systems.

Mobile businesses

Businesses doing mobile paint or dent repair require a business licence for each premises or mobile business unit where the business operates. This means that one business set up in many parking lots across the city requires a separate licence for each location.

Fuel sales/storage

The business of storing, distributing or selling liquid fuel, lubricating oils and associated fluids for motor vehicles including the retail sale of incidental products requires a licence. Any gas station or fuel wholesaler requires this type of licence and other applicable licence types, depending on how the business operates.

If your business sells bulk fuels or imports/exports fuel, registration with Alberta Finance and Enterprise (1-780-427-3044) is required.

Rooftop units/mechanical equipment

Spray booths, auto body and paint shops and motor vehicle repair and service shops often require rooftop units or mechanical equipment to handle the ventilation requirements specific to the business. If you are proposing new mechanical equipment on the roof of a building as part of a commercial building permit, a plan showing the height and material of the screen, or a letter stating the equipment will not be visible from the street is required. If you are proposing new mechanical equipment attached to the exterior of the building (not on the roof), a development permit for exterior renovations may be required.

Consider your required approvals

Once you apply for your business licence, outstanding approvals must be completed before the business licence is issued.

A business licence will often have multiple licence types associated with it. Below is a chart of all the related licence types that fall under this business activity. If your business requires multiple licence types, approval processes are only generated once per licence. For example, only one fire inspection is required even if multiple licence types require that inspection.

Required approvals

Licence Type Land use Police Fire Health Provincial AMVIC ID card
Auto Body Shop Required Required Required Not required Not required Required Not required
Fuel Sales/Storage Required Not required Required Not required Not required Not required Not required
Motor Vehicle Dealer - Premises Required Required Required Not required Not required Required Not required
Motor Vehicle Dealer - No Premises Required Required Required Not required Not required Required Not required
Motor Vehicle Repair and Service Required Not required Required Not required Not required Required Not required
Retail Dealer - Premises Required Not required Required Not required Not required Not required Not required
Fuel Sales/Storage Required Not required Required Not required Not required Not required Not required


​Land use approval​

All businesses in Calgary require land use approval. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use that cannot be changed without an approval, permit or both.

To view the allowable uses within a land use district, refer to the Land Use Bylaw. To determine the land use district of a property, visit myProperty.

You can also refer to Commercial, industrial and mulit-residential for more information, or contact our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to investigate land use approval for your business.​​

Calgary Police Services approval

This licence type requires recommendation by the Calgary Police Service through the Police Information Checks unit. Approval is completed by the Calgary Police Service and is initiated on your behalf through your business licence application.  Please note that previous police checks cannot be used as a substitute for this approval process.

You are required to provide two pieces of valid, government issued identification, one of which must contain photo identification (ID).

You can show your ID:

  • In person at the Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB
  • By fax: 403-537-3034

Please reference your Business ID (BID) in the email or fax.

Please note: for licenses requiring a statutory declaration or a City-issued ID card, proof of identification must be shown in person.

This approval generally takes about two weeks.

Acceptable forms of government issued photo identification include:

  • driver’s license
  • passport
  • Alberta photo identification card (issued through registry offices)
  • firearms license
  • Nexus card
  • permanent resident card
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status card (federally issued)
  • aviation document booklet
  • certified refugee protection claimant document

(For youth between the ages of 12 to 15 years old who cannot provide any of the listed photo identification options, a student photo ID will be considered).

Acceptable forms of government issued identification include:

  • provincial health care card
  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • immigration documentation (includes valid document issued by Immigration and citizenship Canada)
  • citizenship card
  • citizenship certificate

Fire Prevention Bureau approval

Most businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. 

If a business licence is for a low fire-risk licence type, it can be issued if only the Fire approval is outstanding. Low fire-risk businesses need to have the fire inspection within 30 days of their licence being issued.

Before you book your inspection, you must be ready for business, which means:

  • Applicants must be in possession of the space/site
  • The business is ready to serve customers (e.g. shelves are stocked and fixtures are in place)
Business Licence Approval Type Timeline
Fire inspection 5 business days

To book your inspection contact 311 with your Business Identification (BID) number to request a Fire Inspection for Business Licence (call 403-268-2489 outside of Calgary) .

It can take up to 5 business days for an inspector to visit the space.

See the Fire Department Business Licence Checklist to see what is required for your inspection.

The Fire Prevention Bureau will notify the Licence Division with the results of the inspection.

This inspection must be performed by the Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors. This approval is in addition to any inspection done by the firefighting division, such as the occupancy inspection completed on your building permit.​​​​​

Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC)


The Alberta government requires a license for certain motor vehicle business activities.  You must contact the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) at 1-877-979-8100 for details about obtaining a provincial licence.

AMVIC requires confirmation of City planning approvals before they will issue a provincial AMVIC licence. Once AMVIC issues your provincial licence, you must provide it to The City of Calgary, which will then release your municipal business licence.

Applicants can present the AMVIC license:

  • In person at the Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB

Photo Identification Cards


If your business type requires an ID card, you must apply in person at the Planning Services Centre:

  • Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB

Two (2) pieces of valid, government issued identification are required, one of which must include photo identification. The Calgary Police Service outlines acceptable forms of identification. Be prepared to have your photograph taken at the Planning Services Centre, where your municipal photo identification card will be created.​


For business licence fees, see the Business Licence Fee Schedule. The business licence fee schedule is broken down by licence type. If your business requires multiple licence types, the highest category fee will be charged.

These fees do not include the costs related to required permits to meet land use approval, or any third-party approvals or inspections that may be required to obtain your licence.

How to apply


Apply now

If you need help when completing your application Live Chat with us, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday to Friday.

We’re currently experiencing higher than seasonal application volumes, we apologize for delays. To check the status of your permit, go to vista.calgary.ca and enter in your Job Access Code (JAC) number.

In person

Apply in person at the Planning Services Centre

Additional information

Obtaining your business licence

A business license will be issued when  all outstanding approvals are complete. If you wish to inquire about the status of your licence, please contact the Planning Call Centre at 403-268-5311. 

The authorized business licence will be sent to the applicant in the mail, or if requested, can be held at our permit pick-up counter. When a commercial business is operational, the physical copy of your business licence must be posted in a highly visible location where the public can easily see it.

If you intend to make any changes to your business after receiving your licence, please visit Manage your business for more information.

How long is my licence good for?

Business licences expire one year from the issuance date. Forty-five days before the licence expires, a notice is mailed out advising the licensee of the expiry date. Any outstanding fines must be paid prior to renewal.

Business ownership changes

A business licence or business ID is not transferable from one person to another or from one person's business premises to another.

Multiple premises

A business operating from more than one location requires a separate business licence for each premises.

Licence type combinations

To ensure the proper approvals are generated for a business, multiple licence types may be attached to a single business licence. For example, a cabinet maker would require a manufacturer licence type; if the business is also installing the cabinets, a contractor licence type is required. Both licence types will appear on the same business licence document and only one renewal will be required.

Charitable organization

All charitable organizations must be associated with another licenced business activity. Approval must be granted by the province before applying for a municipal licence.

Businesses not eligible for a charity status:

  • Alcohol beverage sales
  • Tobacco retailer

All fundraising activity is governed by the charitable fundraising act. Charitable organizations that are only fundraising should contact Service Alberta, Consumer Services at 1-780-427-4088 or 1-877-427-4088.

All applicants for this licence type should first consult with the province about eligibility for this designation and register their business, prior to applying for a municipal business licence. Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) for more information.

Planning Services Centre

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (MT)

Live chat:


In person: 
Planning Services Centre,
3rd floor, Municipal building 
800 Macleod Trail SE

Book an eAppointment for in person services at appointment.calgary.ca

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